Far from being the preserve of a few elite thinkers, critique increasingly dominates public life in modernity, leading to a cacophony of accusation and denunciation around all political issues. The technique of unmasking ‘power’ or ‘hegemony’ or ‘ideology’ has now been adopted across the political spectrum, where critical discourses are routinely used to suggest that anything and everything is only a ‘construct’ or even a ‘conspiracy’. This book draws on anthropological theory to provide a different perspective on this phenomenon; critique appears as a liminal predicament combining imitative polemical and schismatic urges with a haunting sense of uncertainty. It thereby addresses a central academic concern, with a special focus on political critique in the public sphere and within social media. Combining historical interrogations of the roots of critique, as well as examining contemporary political discourse in relation to populism, as seen in presidential elections, historical commemorations and welfare reform, The Spectacle of Critique uses anthropology and genealogy to offer a new sociology of critique that problematises critique and diagnoses its crisis, cultivating acritical and imaginative ways of thinking.

chapter 1|7 pages

The tragedy of critique

chapter 2|23 pages

The sound and the fury

The insights and limits of the critique of critique

chapter 3|21 pages

The experience of critique

Inside permanent liminality

chapter 4|25 pages

Critique is history?

Understanding a tradition of tradition-breaking 1

chapter 5|24 pages

Unthinking critical thinking

The reduction of philosophy to negative logic

chapter 6|22 pages

The cacophony of critique

Populist radicals and hegemonic dissent

chapter 7|20 pages

Asocial media

An auto-ethnography of on-line critiques

chapter 8|8 pages

Towards acritical theory